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Memory Lane
Van Buren First Assembly of God's Memory Lane Alzheimer's Special Care Unit is considered the finest Alzheimer's facility in Arkansas and one of the best in the nation.

Many Assemblies of God churches care for the needy through food pantries, clothing banks, holiday meals and similar compassion ministries. But Van Buren (Arkansas) First Assembly of God may be the very first AG church to not only offer a retirement center for seniors, but now a fully-staffed care unit for individuals who have Alzheimer's or dementia.

The new $5 million, 34,000 square-foot Memory Lane Alzheimer's Special Care Unit, dedicated on November 13, was recently completed through the donation of a gift of $5 million given anonymously last November. The care unit is an addition to the already existing 60,000-square-foot Legacy Heights Retirement Center.

Senior Pastor Bobby Johnson, who has been ministering at the 1,100-member church for the past 34 years, says that in 2007 the church opened the Legacy Heights Retirement Center, offering 55 units for retirees.

Having converted a wing of the center into an Alzheimer's care unit in 2009, Johnson says at first the church struggled as the economy crash at that time took its toll. "But three years ago, a foundation offered us a $1 million grant, if we could match it," Johnson says. "We matched almost all of it and that helped us recover."

Memory Lane pictures
Much of the decor in Memory Lanes is designed to help those with Alzheimer's use their memories.

Apparently liking what Johnson and Van Buren First Assembly were doing, the same foundation came back to them this past November and offered the grant money to build a state-of-the-art Alzheimer's care facility.

AG General Treasurer Doug Clay spoke at the dedication of the new unit. "Thank you for being a wonderful and biblical example of excellence in ministry to our seniors," Clay said. "There is nothing quite like this . . . praise the Lord!"

When the new facility, which is expected to open by mid-December, is at capacity (40 patients), it will have a staff of 50 to 60 people, including nurses and other professional staff who will provide 24-hour care in private rooms. The facility is also licensed by the state.

"Memory Lane is divided into two mirroring pods of 16,000-square-feet each," Johnson says. "They each have 20 rooms and include a dining room, activities room, a beauty salon, whirlpool, an outdoor walking track within the confines of each pod, and between the pods is a safe room for residents of Legacy Heights and Memory Lane."

Clay observed that one out of eight Americans are now age 65 or older, with more than 5,500 Americans turning 65 every day. "As the percentage of older people in the population increases, problems, attitudes, responsibilities, and care related to the aging become matters of increasing concern," Clay said.

Pastor Bobby Johnson
Pastor Bobby Johnson

Johnson agrees with Clay's assessment. "Statistics say 1 out of 2 people who are 85 will contract this disease — a disease where there are no survivors."

According to what state officials have already communicated to Johnson, the new Alzheimer's facility is the best in the state and is one of the best in the nation.

"The difference is, this facility was built strictly for Alzheimer's patients — it's not an older building converted to house Alzheimer's patients," Johnson explains. "For example, our large outdoor walking track is secure, pictures and decorations are from the 1930s, 40s and 50s, which will help with memory, and each patient's door will have pictures of their family members on it."

What's more, Johnson says, those residents living at Legacy Heights and the patients soon to be a part of Memory Lane will continue to have the opportunities to hear the gospel message, through visitation of retired AG ministers and live-streaming of all church services.

And perhaps Clay summed the church's efforts up best when he said during the dedication, "Thank you for addressing this concern with care, quality and excellence."

For more information about Legacy Heights or Memory Lane, contact Van Buren First AG at info@vbfirst.com.

 

 


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Upcoming national Japanese Conference offers "restoration"

Wed, 16 Jan 2013 - 4:04 PM CST

Ito Hiroshi
Hiroshi

Pastor Ito Hiroshi knows a little something about restoration. Two years ago, a massive tsunami struck Japan - Hiroshi was there and witnessed the unimaginable destruction first hand. He's also been there the last two years, helping to restore the country physically - through his work with Convoy of Hope - and rebuild a nation spiritually - through prayer and the gospel message.

The second annual Japanese Conference, coming to Springfield, Missouri, March 12-14, 2013, will have the theme of "restoration" and feature Pastor Hiroshi as a keynote speaker. In addition to sharing graphic images of the intense destruction the tsunami left behind in Japan, Hiroshi will also offer evidence of how God is working through the devastation to reveal Himself to a formerly resistant culture.

"Pastor Hiroshi will also speak on how God can restore our own personal life, no matter what the damage," says Yoriko Yabuki, who with her husband, Daisuke, are appointed Japanese Assemblies of God missionaries and are lead hosts of the conference. "His personal testimony of how God healed his difficult health condition as he helped those suffering around him is very inspirational."

Hosted at Central Assembly of God, where the Yabukis serve as international pastors, the conference will also serve as an opportunity for pastors to hear about what it would take to form a Japanese Fellowship akin to the existing 21 language/ethnic fellowships. Assemblies of God Ethnic Relations Director Scott Temple will host an informational meeting on the topic.

Other speakers for the conference include: Dr. James Bradford, AG general secretary; Byron Klaus, president of AG Theological Seminary; Dale Crall, pastor of Calvary Campus Church in Carbondale, Illinois; Jeff Peterson, pastor of the host church, Central Assembly of God; Steve Smith, missionary to the Japanese in Michigan; the Yabukis; and Sandi Bradford, wife of Dr. James Bradford, who will lead a women-only session.

"This event is targeted to the Japanese pastor who has U.S. credentials, the U.S. pastor who leads a Japanese ministry and those who have a God-given desire to reach Japanese and their Americans families for Christ," Daisuke Yabuki says.  "We also welcome non-Christian Japanese people and we will have breakout sessions just for them to help them understand the gospel

Although the conference is officially geographically known as the "Midwest" Japanese Conference, the conference is intended to be national in scope. Registration cost for adults prior to March 1 is $80 and includes three onsite meals. Children ages 6-12 are offered an activity program for $40. Nursery care is available for children 5 and under for $25. Lodging is available at the Central Bible College dormitories at a rate of $15 per person per night. The registration cost will increase to $100 beginning March 1.

For more information about the conference, including deadlines, lodging, schedules and registration forms, see the event website.

Authors: Dan Van Veen

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